Teachers' union never considered calling off strike because 'venues were already booked'

The union advocating for primary school teachers says it didn't even consider calling off strikes because the venues had already been booked.

However New Zealand Education Institute (NZEI) Te Riu Roa believes it's been "really flexible" in its negotiations with the Government.

Monday marks the start of a series of strikes by primary school teachers fed up with pay and working conditions.

On Friday, it was announced the Government had offered teachers roughly a $10,000 pay rise, bringing the average salary up to $85,000.

But despite that, the teachers voted to go ahead with the strike - the second time in three months they have walked off the job.

On Sunday, NZEI's lead negotiator Liam Rutherford told NZME that the union hadn't even considered calling the strikes off.

"We didn't consider calling off the strike, because we've got venues booked around country," he explained.

"We've been really flexible, but the reality is when you have booked this many venues for a meeting at 11 o'clock, the half-day doesn't really cut it."

Mr Rutherford blames that on the offer coming through late on Thursday evening, and says parents had already made arrangements for their children to be at school.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins is not happy the strike will go ahead, and said the Government had done all it could and simply had no more money to offer.

“I think that a $9500 pay rise is a pay rise that many other New Zealanders would certainly appreciate,” he said.

But Opposition Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye has called on the Government to be more "respectful" in the way it handled collective bargaining.

She said the late offer had meant the strikes were difficult to avoid.

NZEI has labelled some of the figures being spouted by the Government - including a claim by Associate Minister Tracey Martin on Newshub Nation that teachers had been offered an extra $20,000 per year - were "misleading".

Lynda Stuart from NZEI said it would take years for anyone's pay to go up that much and only a few would end up with the bigger increases.


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